Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Choosing Not to Serve is Heartbreaking

But leaving my husband for 18months was even more so.

Almost one year ago I declined my mission call and decided to make the choice that was happier for my life. 

It was the hardest decision I have ever made and at that point I didn't know that 6months later I would be married. 

My husband and I had dated for around 18months at that point and my serving a mission was a clear goal throughout.

Finish university, serve a mission. He would wait and we'd figure it out on my return. And while I was gone he would finish university and have time to start building up his career. 

Logical, right? 

I started my mission papers way earlier than needed, studied Preach my Gospel, spent a lot of time thinking about and preparing for the temple (I was so excited and nervous for that day to finally come), hours pinning on pinterest all the stylish outfits that a missionary could possibly wear so I didn't have to fall into that stereotype of horrible shoes and pioneer style skirts and basically getting excited. 

On my 21st birthday I had my final interview with my stake president that meant my papers could be submitted. It felt so right and exciting. Sure I was sad to be leaving my boyfriend (as Bernard was at the time) but my heart was set and marriage seemed like such a crazy far off notion. I certainly wasn't old enough or done enough cool life things first. 

He was supportive, kind and we were absolutely in love with each other, but we both felt that a mission was something I should do and so the Lord comes first (always) as we knew his desires for us will bless our lives and mould us into the best versions of ourselves. 

The call took much longer than expected to arrive (ten weeks) and I know that the Lord was giving me time to reconsider and feel direction through the Holy Ghost. I began to feel paralysed at the thought of leaving, unhappy, confused, conflicted and lost. Before my call even arrived. 

I was so confused, I was living the commandments, trying my best and working towards a righteous goal. I wanted to give up 18months of my live to help others and do His work. Why didn't I feel that peace or excitement anymore? 

My call arrived, with a departure date that was 4weeks away!!

I couldn't do it. I kept going back and forth with my decision and that almost torn Bernard & I apart. 

I was giving him the option of a future together now, or leaving. 

Long story short. I stayed.
(Read about the horrible month and insane decision making process here: "My Mission Call Arrived and I'm not Going")

We went on to get married and were able to go through the temple together. 

With Bernard being an 'older' convert and this whole experience, neither of us have served a mission and for a while I was terrified that our family would suffer because of it. That somehow we would be doing our future children an injustice. A fear that ate at me while I tried to decide what to do. I felt a sense of duty to them. But we followed what we know to be true. 

So many prayers, fasting, heartbreak and love went into that choice. That even now, I feel it everyday. 

So often I am reminded of what I have missed out on that it is easy to look past what I have gained. I have an incredible husband who puts our family before anything else and loves God. We were able to experience going through the temple together for the first time and that was so sacred and special, I cannot imagine having had that experience without him. 

While practicing taking our vows at our wedding rehearsal, I looked across at him with tears in my eyes so incredibly full of the Holy Spirit. It was so unexpected. I know that Heavenly Father has blessed our union and that we made a choice that will bless us and our family to come.

Going through such an experience only made us stronger as individuals, as a couple and in our testimonies. 

One year on I struggle with everyday fulfilment, I certainly don't have a graduate job and I've lost a lot of confidence. But I am happy in my marriage which I know will last forever and I am immensely grateful to get to experience this kind of love.

At times I count the amount of months I would have currently been on my mission for, which is silly and painful but I almost want to compare what I have done with my time vs what could have been. It is so easy to ponder on what could have been and feel that painful twist of the knife and take for granted my wonderful husband and our very happy marriage. 

The biggest emotion that stopped me from serving was the literal heartbreak and physical pain I felt at leaving him. I knew I could suffer through it if a mission was one million billion percent right but the Lord gave the choice to me and I physically could not go.

It's been a year of emotions. 
The biggest sorrows I have ever felt and the biggest joys. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Dating my Husband #1 | A Weekend in London

During New Blood Bernard and I hardly saw each other and we knew that we wouldn't have many opportunities to take days out over the next few months, so we booked some out to continue our time in London and simply be together. 

Our weekend started off dragging our suitcases around London as our accommodation set up changed and had the fun job of taking them with us on the tube mid heatwave and through crowded streets. We stopped off at Trafalgar Square in hope that we could look around the National Art Gallery but were denied due to our suitcases :(. Not quite ready to face the tube yet we took a break and joined a large number of people lying down outside the gallery on a small grassy area. Such a contrast to the swarms of people walking through the square directly in front of us! In central London I always feel very aware that I am in London. Compared to the more niche areas that feel so familiar. 

While soaking up the insane summer sun I noticed a man holding what looked like a small fisherman's net attached to two wooden sticks or poles. Strange, but there are many strange things in London with so many people about! That I gave it little thought until I noticed a large concession of bubbles float over my head!!! Turns out what he had been holding was an incredible bubble making invention, making kids go crazy and filling the sky with such beautiful spheres. Some of the largest bubbles I have ever seen!! I tried to film it but I couldn't quite capture the beauty of the moment. Sudden flocks of translucent, pastel bubbles moving so softly with the sun shining through them. And all for free.  

The following morning I took Bernard to The Breakfast Club for the first time because I knew he would go crazy for it! We stupidly went to the one in Soho (near Oxford Street) as it was on route but had to queue a good 30minutes outside before we were even seated. Fortunately for us (but not for the company) we saw a lot of people leave due to queuing for so long, so Breakfast Club you seriously need to expand that venue/cafe! We only stuck it out as I really wanted him to try it! And man was it glorious. 

A much smaller cafe than the Hoxton one I had previously been too, we were much closer to our fellow customers! But the atmosphere was great (albeit a little loud) and the food divine. I'd forgotten how big the portions are and how insanely delicious it is! Seriously go there!!!  (But another location unless you want to wait for days. Or book.) I had a huge stack of Pancakes and Berries with added bacon. The vanilla cream alone was incredible. Bernard as hungry as he was forwent the pancakes and opted for a hearty serving of The Full Monty. He ate it so fast I didn't get a photo...

Then we headed to Oxford Street, where as all you Lush heads know they have recently opened up a massive three floor flagship store! (With it's own instagram account..) The fact it sells over 200 exclusive products is reason enough to pop in. It was so different to any other Lush store as they are usually so small and intimate but it was definitely an experience in-keeping with the brand. Full of wooden crates, vintage touches and bright colours it really is any bath girls dream. Having only gotten into Lush recently myself I simply wanted to see what it was like and check it out as a brief experience rather than focus too heavily on any individual products. (Separate blog post to come soon!) We were even greet by an incredibly enthusiastic member of the Lush team, it almost felt like American customer service. Not only was she insanely excited but she clearly loved her job and everything on offer. Someone could easily be lost in there for days. 

And last, we finished off our weekend with a quick trip to the Saatchi Gallery. A place we last visited back in 2013 when we just started dating. A very contemporary and wacky place with clean cut architecture, where you can always expect to find some very weird and unique pieces. The one above is by artist Jean-Francois Bocle called Everything Must Go, it was the first piece we saw when we entered gallery 1 (out of 15) and it was by far my favourite. It was huge! It evoked an experience, a sense of space, it considered impact both as spacial awareness and the issue at hand. I love art that not only makes me feel but immerses me.

Our very first date was at a local art gallery. It has become something so ingrained in us and it is wonderful just how many free art galleries and museums there are across the UK. I always want to take actively advantage of it, not simply because it's there or because it's free but for our insatiable love for all things design and creative.

Where would you recommend for a date in London?

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

My Week as a D&AD New Blood Festival Guide

For those of you who follow me on twitter and instagram you would have seen an influx of information regarding various advertising and design agencies, creative work, selfies and goings on in the Shoreditch/Brick Lane area in London. In short I was a Festival Guide for this year's D&AD New Blood Festival. An organisation that I have harped on about on this blog for a few years. 

I love D&AD. They are a celebration of international creative talent, bridging the gap between graduates and industry, and work closely with many companies and creative individuals. 

The New Blood Festival #NBFestival focuses on showcasing upcoming talent or 'New Blood' from advertising, graphics and illustration undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the country. Many companies will host events throughout the week providing workshops, talks and opportunities to network. At the very end of the week there is an award show to see who has won a prestigious yellow pencil, followed by a afterparty. All held in one of the most hipster areas in London. Standard. 

And while I live roughly 200miles away from London, it seems I am always there! After volunteering for the D&AD Professional Awards Judging Week in April I was contacted to see if I would be interested in volunteering as a Festival Guide (of course). I went through the application process and after a Skype interview which was the quickest interview of my life (!) I was offered the position alongside nine others. I was invited down to London before the Festival was due to start and spent the day in their gorgeous little studio near the main offices, being trained by Sasha. It was the most bizarre, fun and helpful training I have ever received on a job. His techniques were abit bewildering and very european (they included tango and intense eye contact with the other guides), but an effective and skilful way of teaching. I was grateful and surprised by how encompassing it was. He didn't solely focus on the week at hand but on our own confidence, presence and ability to make positive impressions. 

The following day we were all assigned to five agencies or creative companies and expected to find our way to them (maps provided) and initiate a 'meet and greet'. A great opportunity to get your foot in the door quite literally and actually talk to those in the industry face to face. Having been in agencies before for internships or book crits, it was a very different experience going to one as a person 'from' D&AD. 

Everyone made a special effort to know, remember and use my name. They knew exactly why I was there and if not, they were worried incase I was there to grill them! It seemed that they felt a sense of responsibility to answer my queries, they were much more attentive and respectful. In my past experiences as simply 'Kiera' going into an agency I was always treated kindly but I was deemed less significant or important. D&AD certainly has a clear and large reputation in the industry. 

Throughout the week I was invited to things that would usually be off limits such as the Private Opening Night of the exhibition, an exclusive talk by Margaret Calvert who designed a great deal of our British road signs, the awards ceremony, the after party, the training, the D&AD office, the D&AD Studio. 

A large part of my role was gathering students and taking them to the events. Standing with my clipboard, D&AD 'Tap to Play' tshirt and waiting for latecomers. Then guiding the group to the agency, often walking between 5-20minutes. A great opportunity to get to know the attendants, gain feedback and get them excited! (Although most of them were already pretty pumped!) It was so interesting to get a sneak peak into so many agencies and see how they work, see their studios, hear their words and check out the type of people and number of people that they employee. Many of them were very forthcoming with handing out business cards (gold dust) and setting briefs in return for placement opportunities. All of which were also open for Festival Guides! Many of whom were recent graduates themselves.

During the week it was our duty to work alongside the official D&AD social media accounts and use our own personal accounts to help create buzz and excitement around the event. I have never used so much social media in such a short space of time in my life but it was an aspect I really enjoyed! It is much harder to tweet about your own day to day than it is to tweet about an incredible event. I found engagement to be very positive and gained a fair few followers as the week progressed. In future I would be more than happy to work at events as a social media head!

The week was as a whole was SO fantastic. Having attended New Blood twice before I wasn't sure how the experience would compare to actually working the event, but I loved it and would certainly recommend it. I didn't even mind particularly that it was mid heatwave (30-40 degrees!!!!) and while it was BOILING we all pushed through and everyone had a great and successful time. The only thing I would say is that I wasn't able to take in all the work on display, but only because I like to take five years going around everything. But there's always next year and each time the work just gets better and better! Hope to see you there!   

* All the photos in this post have been borrowed from the D&AD flickr page/account. To see my personal photos of the week check out my twitter and instagram
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